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Which EU Countries Offer Citizenship by Investment?

A lawyer briefing his client about Citizenship by investment in the EU


When one mentions that they are a country’s citizens, we locate their geographical address and ethnicity, but citizenship extends beyond that. One’s citizenship determines their position in a particular country. It is crucial because of the rights and liabilities it provides. There are several ways to get citizenship in a foreign country. One of the ways is by investment. Citizenship by investment authorizes investors to obtain citizenship in a foreign country in exchange for investing in the said country’s economy.

European citizenship by investment programs presents a streamlined process for acquiring second citizenship within a few months, requiring either an investment or a donation by either starting a business and creating job opportunities or buying properties or securities. Often referred to as “EU economic citizenship,” this approach allows individuals to secure citizenship through financial commitment. The key advantages of obtaining a second passport through these programs include visa-free travel, relief from tax obligations, enhanced privacy and freedom, access to diverse investment opportunities, political diversification, and increased personal security.

What is a European citizen?

A European citizen is a person who holds citizenship from one of the countries that are members of the European Union (EU). European citizenship provides individuals with certain rights and privileges, including the freedom to live, work, and study in any EU country and be protected by the diplomatic and consular services of any EU member state when traveling outside of the EU.

Additionally, European citizens are protected by several fundamental rights guaranteed by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, such as the right to non-discrimination, the right to privacy, and the right to a fair trial. They also have access to healthcare and social security systems in the EU country where they reside.

For a better understanding, an applicant must distinguish between residency and citizenship. A citizen is eligible to apply for a passport and has greater rights. On the other hand, resident status is often conditional, so an applicant can only apply for a travel document like an ID card.

What is the easiest way to get EU citizenship?

4 easiest ways to get EU citizenship

Getting EU citizenship requires meeting certain requirements and following specific procedures, which can vary depending on the country you want to obtain citizenship. Generally, the most common ways to obtain EU citizenship include:


If you have ancestors who were citizens of an EU country, you may be eligible for citizenship by descent. This can be a relatively straightforward process if you can prove your ancestry and meet other requirements, such as language proficiency and residency.


If you are married to an EU citizen, you may be able to obtain citizenship through marriage. This process can take several years and requires certain conditions, such as proving your relationship is genuine and residing with your spouse in their country for a certain period.


You can also obtain EU citizenship through naturalization, which involves meeting residency and other requirements in the country where you wish to become a citizen. This process can take several years and requires passing language and citizenship tests, among other things.


Some EU countries offer citizenship to individuals who make significant investments in their economies, such as through real estate purchases or business ventures. These programs can be expensive and have specific requirements, so it’s important to research them thoroughly.

Several countries in the European Union (“EU”) provide citizenship through investment programs. Also known as “EU economic citizenship.” In fact, in the first six months of 2021, Portugal approved 445 residence permits by investments. And today, this mode is becoming more prevalent than ever before.

Can someone get EU citizenship by investment?

Yes. one can obtain European citizenship by investment in some European countries. However, the requirements and processes vary by country.

Some EU countries offer EU citizenship-by-investment programs that allow individuals to obtain citizenship through investment in the country’s economy. These programs typically require a significant investment, such as buying real estate or investing in a business, and may also require additional fees, residency requirements, and language proficiency tests.

On the other hand, other EU countries offer non-direct citizenship by investment through golden visa programs, such as Cyprus and Portugal.

The requirements and conditions of each golden visa program vary from country to country, but generally, investors must make a significant investment in the country, such as purchasing real estate, investing in a business, or making a government bond investment, and then they are granted a residency permit in return.

Pros and Cons of Acquiring Citizenship By Investment

Pros of Acquiring Citizenship by Investment

  • Improved quality of life: Access to better healthcare, education, and social services, along with cleaner air in industrialized countries with lax environmental laws
  • Increased financial security: Diversification of income sources and a broader range of investment opportunities.
  • Improved political stability: Enhanced political stability and security by obtaining citizenship or residency through investment.
  • Tax optimization: Options like taking up tax residency in a foreign country or renouncing primary citizenship for income tax savings.

Cons of Acquiring Citizenship by Investment

  • Cost: Acquisition can be expensive, requiring a significant financial investment for individuals and their families.
  • Complexity: The process is often intricate and time-consuming, often necessitating assistance from legal and financial experts.
  • Potential impact on the host country’s economy: Programs may significantly impact the host country’s economy, attracting positive and negative consequences from foreign investments.

Which EU countries have citizenship by investment?

Not all European Union (EU) countries offer citizenship by investment programs to non-EU citizens. However, a list of EU countries that currently offer citizenship-by-investment programs is as follows:


To be eligible for Austrian citizenship by investment, the applicant must invest as a business investment, a real estate acquisition, or a combination of the two. The applicant must also pass a background check, have no criminal record, and demonstrate language proficiency.

To be eligible, an applicant must make a minimum investment of €10 million in the Austrian economy. The investment can take various forms, such as purchasing government bonds, real estate, or creating a new business that creates jobs and contributes to the economy.


Cyprus offers two types of Golden Visas:

  • Cyprus golden visa that leads to citizenship; and
  • Cyprus golden visa that leads to permanent residence.

Cyprus offers a citizenship by investment program called the Cyprus Investment Program. This EU Country allows investments to be made either at an individual level, by a spouse, jointly with a spouse, or through a company where the potential investor is a shareholder or a high-ranking senior manager.

The applicants must meet certain criteria such as making a minimum investment of €2 million in real estate, land development, or infrastructure projects; maintaining the investment for a minimum of three years; having a clean criminal record; or having a valid Schengen visa, if applicable.


In 2020 the Maltese government ratified the Malta Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment program (CES) to replace the previous Malta Individual Investor Program (MIIP). In order to be eligible, the following investment requirements must be met: 

An exceptional direct, non-refundable investment of a minimum value of €600,000 or €750,000; or

A real estate investment comprising of either a lease for residential property or real estate for a minimum value of €16,000 per year for a 5-year period or the acquisition of real estate for a minimum value of €700,000 reserved for at least 5 years; or

A donation of €10,000 approved by the Community Malta Agency (CMA), which can be made to either a registered sport or artistic non-governmental organization, or a cultural or scientific, or welfare of animals, etc.

Other requirements include having undergone a thorough due diligence process comprising a background check, criminal records check, and financial records check.


Greece offers citizenship by investment through its Greek golden visa program to foreign investors fulfilling the following criteria.

To be eligible for the Greece citizenship by investment program, the investor must make a significant investment in Greece, including; – at least €2 million investment in real estate or at least €400,000 in Greek government bonds held for at least three years or at least €400,000 in shares or corporate bonds of Greek companies, which must be held for at least three years.

In addition to the minimum investment threshold, other requirements include; – Being over 18 years of age; possess a clean criminal record; holding a valid visa from the Schengen zone.

If the investor meets all the eligibility criteria, they may apply for Greek citizenship. The application process typically takes between six and 12 months and involves a thorough background check and evaluation of the investment made by the applicant.


Bulgaria does offer citizenship by investment through its Bulgarian Citizenship by Investment Program. To be eligible for this program, an applicant must invest a minimum of €1,000,000 in a Bulgarian government bond portfolio for five years. Alternatively, an applicant can invest €511,292 in a Bulgarian government bond portfolio approved and certified by the Bulgarian Investment Agency.

Other investment options are: Business investment for a minimum investment of 250,000 EUR; and real estate investment for a minimum investment of 300,000 EUR.

In addition to the investment requirement, applicants must also meet other eligibility criteria, such as being at least 18 years old, having no criminal record, and providing proof of the source of funds for the investment. Applicants must also pass a due diligence process to ensure they pose no threat to national security or public order.


The Portuguese government offers the Portugal Golden Visa program that allows non-EU citizens to obtain residency in Portugal by investing in the country.

To qualify for the program, an investor must meet certain requirements, including: – Investing in Portugal at least €500,000 in real estate; €350,000 in research and development projects; €250,000 in arts, culture, or heritage projects in Portugal; €500,000 in a venture capital fund that invests in Portuguese companies; or Creating at least 10 jobs in Portugal.

Once the investor has met the requirements and has been granted a Golden Visa, they can apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years of residency in Portugal.


Spain offers citizenship by investment through its Spain Golden Visa program, which grants residency to non-European Union (EU) citizens who make a significant investment in the country.

To qualify for the Golden Visa program in Spain, an applicant must invest at least €500,000 in Spanish real estate; €1 million in Spanish deposits; or €1 million in business; or €2 million in Spanish government bonds or shares.

The investment must be maintained for at least five years. The program allows for a two-year residency permit that can be renewed for an additional three years, after which the investor may be eligible for permanent residency.

Which European Union Countries Offer Golden Visa Program and Investment Schemes?

Most EU countries offer Golden Visa programs that provide residency and citizenship rights to individuals who invest in their economies. The Golden EU Passport and EU Golden Visa programs have become increasingly popular among high-net-worth individuals seeking to secure second citizenship and enjoy the benefits of being an EU citizen.

These programs also offer a fast-track process for obtaining residency permits and, in some cases, citizenship by investing in real estate, businesses, or government bonds. Several European Union (EU) countries offer EU golden visas and investment schemes. Here are some of the EU countries that offer EU Golden visa programs:


The Golden Visa program in Portugal requires an investment of at least €500,000 in real estate. The program grants residency to the investor and their family members.


The Golden Visa program in Spain requires an investment of at least €500,000 in real estate, a bank deposit of €1 million, or an investment of €2 million in Spanish government bonds. The program grants residency to the investor and their family members.


The Golden Visa program in Greece requires an investment of at least €250,000 in real estate. The program grants residency to the investor and their family members.


The Cyprus Investment Program requires an investment of at least €2 million in real estate, government bonds, or businesses. The program grants citizenship to the investor and their family members.

Which EU countries are the easiest to get citizenship by investment?

The following countries are the easiest to invest in for residency and citizenship options:


Malta is the nation with one of the quickest citizenship by investment programs. To reside in the country, residents need a one-year residency permit and a contribution of at least 750,000 euros.

A person with a three-year residency permit can get citizenship with minimal effort. The procedure usually takes 12 to 36 months. Also, Maltese passports are easy to get.


Portugal is one of the easiest EU nations to get citizenship by investment. There is no requirement to move to Portugal. Yet through this program, one can enjoy attractive tax options, a substantial rate of return, and accessible health care through various investment options. 

However, immigrating to Portugal can be daunting, including finding out about customs and documents, figuring out the job market, etc. Therefore, you must have complete information about immigrating to Portugal.


Under the citizenship by investment program in Spain, investing a minimum of just 500,000 euros in real estate will qualify investors and their families for temporary residency in a few months. Business, government bonds, and bank deposits are some more investment alternatives.

The law has no minimum residency requirements. A 2-year first residence card is issued, followed by a 5-year renewal. The permanent residence permit is available after five years, while citizenship is achievable after ten. Additionally, an applicant does not have to live in Spain to keep and renew the resident visa permit.

What are the Minimum Investment Requirements for EU Citizenship by Investment Program?

Minimum investment requirements to get EU citizenship by investment program

Several countries in the EU offer citizenship by investment program. Montenegro doesn’t have a formal Golden Visa program, but anybody who purchases real estate in Montenegro is eligible for residency. Also, there is no set investment rule in Montenegro. 

It is the cheapest option because the realistic minimum is 50,000 euros. At 250,000 euros, Greece’s residency program has a lower investment rule than several other European countries. Currently, the price in Latvia is also 250,000 euros plus a 5 percent application fee based on the cost of the property.

What are the Requirements in EU Countries for Citizenship by Investment Program?

Each country has its requirements for citizenship through investment programs. Listed below are the requirements for citizenship by investment programs for Malta, Portugal, Greece, and Spain. 


Citizenship by investment in the member-state of Malta includes a base investment of 600,000 euros for a residency period of 36 months. It may also be 750,000 euros for a minimum residency period of 12 months. Additionally, investors need to add 50,000 euros for each extra, depending on their application. 

Investors also need to contribute an extra 700,000 euros to residential real estate. They may also sign a rental agreement with a minimum annual value of 16,000 euros that must be upheld for five years. The applicant must also pay 10,000 euros to a non-governmental organization.


An applicant needs to invest at least 280,000 euros, the processing of which may take about six months. Investing can take place through capital transfer, business, or property acquisition. 

The base investment should be consistent for five years. The investment property may be rented out or exchanged for another one. In the first year, the applicant must spend seven days there; in the following years, fourteen.


A residence permit for investments in Spain is issued for two years. It needs renewal after five years. But Spain does not allow second citizenship, except for only a few countries in Latin America. 

Investment options include:

Purchasing real estate amounting to 500,000 euros.

Investing 1,000,000 euros in Spanish companies shares.

Opening a bank deposit amounting to 1,000,000 euros.

Buying government bonds worth 2,000,000 euros.

Opening a business with an investment of 1,000,000 euros.


Greece is one of the many prominent member-states in the EU. The Greek program has the lowest investment requirement of any real estate resident visa program in Europe, requiring only a 250,000 euros investment in real estate in Greece.

The property can be either residential or commercial and can be found anywhere on the Greek mainland or islands. The 250,000 euros minimum investment consists of any number of properties. Investors who purchase a home jointly may pool their funds. 

Investment options in Greece include the following:

  • Invest in real estate worth at least 250,000 euros.
  • Sign a minimum 10-year lease with a hotel or other tourism destination.
  • Make a capital investment in a Greek firm worth at least 400,000 euros.
  • Purchase Greek government bonds for 400,000 euros.
  • Invest 400,000 euros in bonds or stock of real estate investment firms.
  • Deposit 400,000 euros at a Greek bank.
  • Purchase government or corporate bonds worth 800,000 euros.

What are the Residency and Citizenship by Investment Programs: in Portugal, Malta, and Spain?

Portugal, Malta, and Spain provide Golden Visa Programs by Investment.

In Portugal, the investment explained above can be in the following programs: 

  1. Buying a property worth 500,000 euros.
  2. Investing 350,000 euros in cultural heritage and historic buildings.
  3. Buying shares worth 1,000,000 of Portuguese companies.
  4. Investing 350,000 euros in projects which are research-oriented and developmental.
  5. Investing 250,000 euros in the preservation of the cultural and national heritage.
  6. Purchasing shares in investment funds worth 500,000 euros.
  7. Opening a company and creating ten jobs.

In Malta, the following two options are available:

  1. Malta Citizenship by Investment program: This program is called “citizenship by naturalization for exceptional services by direct investment.” It grants investors a Maltese passport after three years of residency. There is also an expedited option in which citizenship is given after one year for a higher cost.
  2. Malta Permanent Residency Program: The investment requirement is lower. Participants are also issued Maltese permanent residency permits. They can also qualify for Maltese citizenship after five years of residency.

The golden visa program of Spain is the only alternative for citizenship by investment program. If the applicant intends to become a citizen of Spain, they must reside in the country for at least ten years. It is possible with the Investor Visa. 

The applicant must live in Spain for at least six months each year for ten years to obtain a passport. Other conditions, such as language proficiency and links to Spain, are also necessary to become a citizen of that nation. A Spanish passport grants the holder access to the European Union’s labor market and visa-free travel to more than a hundred nations.

Which are the Countries Offering Citizenship By Investment Programs?

Thirty nations worldwide provide citizenship and/or residency by investment schemes. Only nine countries now offer a straight path to citizenship based on the investment. St. Kitts & Nevis Citizenship is the oldest program of its type in the world. It started in 1984. Dominica in 1993 and St. Lucia in 2016 began their citizenship by investment programs. Antigua & Barbuda is one such nation. Turkey, Malta, and Montenegro also offer direct citizenship by investment.


Citizenship allows the applicant to get a position in a nation. When applicants get this status through investment, they must meet citizenship requirements through investment programs. Several countries all over the world have such programs. But Malta, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland are the most accessible alternatives in the EU.

Although the minimum investment starts at 50,000 euros, 250,000 euros is the most common investment in other countries in the EU. Every country has different investment limits, different investment options, and different permanence of residency. The criteria explained for Malta, Portugal, Austria, and Spain are examples of this. 

The options available in Portugal, Malta, and Spain lay down the different programs prevalent in their respective countries. The citizenship by investment program is unique and a very lucrative option for investors to enjoy the perks of foreign nations in terms of taxes, infrastructure, security, business opportunities, and many more. 

For those considering a change in their residency or citizenship, explore various options, from a European country to Norway.

Frequently Asked Questions

Graphs and charts showing the increase in citizenship by investment

Do European citizenship-by-investment programs extend coverage to my children and parents?

Typically, all citizenship-by-investment initiatives encompass the investor’s children up to 18, with some programs extending coverage for children under 26. Certain programs even permit the inclusion of dependent parents of the investor, and in specific countries like Portugal and Spain, parents of the investor’s spouse may also be eligible.

What is citizenship by investment?

This is a process where an individual can obtain citizenship in another country by investing in that country.

What is a Golden Visa?

A Golden Visa is a type of residency permit offered by some countries to individuals who make a substantial investment in a foreign country.

What are the requirements for citizenship by investment programs in the EU?

The requirements vary from country to country. However, it generally involves a significant financial investment, including purchasing real estate, making a donation to a development fund, or investing in government bonds, etc.

Can I hold dual citizenship if I obtain citizenship through an investment program?

Yes. Mostly, it is possible to hold dual citizenship if you obtain citizenship through an investment program, provided the laws and regulations of both countries allow dual citizenship and have no conflicts or limitations.

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